tv CBS Evening News With Katie Couric CBS August 19, 2010 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
city of coast. this may be in eastern afghanistan but it's considered the wild west, a front line in the war against the taliban who have a safe haven across the border in pakistan just 25 miles away. as the war intensifies and u.s. casualties mount, we'll talk with the new man in charge. >> there is no intent to look for the exits and turn out the light come next july 2011. >> couric: and to these u.s. marines who have the most dangerous job in the world. >> is everybody all right! >> couric: tonight at this critical juncture, afghanistan: the road ahead. captioning sponsored by cbs from cbs news world headquarters in new york, this is the "cbs evening news" with katie couric. >> couric: good evening,
everyone. fromicable. as the war in iraq is winding down, the war here in afghanistan is heating up. with the surge ordered by president obama, there are now nearly 100,000 u.s. soldiers and marines here and 40,000 coalition troops. the military reported another death today, bringing the u.s. toll for august to at least 16. as casualties mount, the american public is growing more skeptical. 43% now say the war was a mistake. so why then are u.s. forces here? how long will they stay? and what is the definition of "success?" we've come in search of answers. and we'll begin with the new u.s. chander. we went along with him and headed to the eastern part of afghanistan. the day began early in the capital city. before general david petraeus got an assessment of the war from his top commanders in the field, we got an assessment from him. >> well, we're making progress
but we've got to make a lot more, obviously. it's a tough fight. >> couric: after nine years, over $300 billion, 1200 u.s.es lives, not to mention coalition forces and civilian casualties, a lot of americans thinking what the heck are we doing here still? >> well, i can understand that. i mean, it's easy to get frustrated about afghanistan. we should remember why we're here. this is where the 9/11 attacks were planned. it is very much a vital national security interest to the united states and really all the countries of the world that are fighting extremism to make sure that there are not sanctuaries in this country once again from which transnational extremists can launch attacks. >> couric: but many americans are growing increasingly disillusioned with the war. the taliban has gained ground. i.e.d. attacks have more than doubled in the last year. july was the deadliest month for u.s. troops since the war began. marjah, which was supposed to be
a model of counter-insurgency in the south, turned into a long, bloody slog. in the face of these setbacks, there are now a lot of talk about working towards a less-than-perfect afghanistan. >> we talk about afghan good enough, being good enough. it is. we're not trying to turn afghanistan into switzerland in five years or less. again, what's good enough, traditional organizing structures and so forth, are certainly fine, and you'll get that sense when we're out there today. >> couric: but first, there's a commander's briefing every morning at 7:30 sharp. today, the news included the death toll of insurgents killed in combat, 160 this month. and suspicions that the taliban had used the pesticide malathion to sicken girls in prief provinces. he goes out in the field twice a week. today's battlefield rotation takes the general on a c-130 east to an american base near
the pakistan border. for another briefing... >> you all are in a tough neighborhood. >> couric: ...and a military award ceremony. >> great stuff. >> couric: what makes eastern afghanistan even more difficult to tame is the fact that pakistan is about 20 miles away just beyond those mountains, a safe haven where insurgents can regroup, retrain, and re-enter this country whenever they please. the biggest threat here is the terrorist organization called the h aqqani network based over the border in worth waziristan, a group petraeus says the pakistani military is starting to target. >> that's a tough nut to crack. it's very, very difficult terrain. there are very bad guys in there. >> couric: americans are very frustrated that there are safe havens for the terrorists in pakistan. they think we give them billions of dollars in aid. why can't we exert more pressure
on them to be better partners? >> well, the pack takens have put a lot of short sticks into a lot of hornets' nests over the course of the last 18 months. the fact is, if you had asked me 18 months ago if they would have conducted the operations they had conducted, i would have doubted it. >> couric: another hot-button issue looming on the horizon, the administration's plan to begin withdrawing u.s. troops next summer. >> he continued to downplay the timeline those experts say it's created mountains of anxiety among locals, afghan officials, and even our nato allies. >> there is no intent to look for the exits and turn out the light come next july 2011. >> couric: we ended the day flying over kabul. you ever look out on this city and really think about this country and think it's just simply too massive to transform? >> actually, i look at kabul and i see a city that is
transforming. we're trying to enable the afghans to develop this into a country that they can secure and govern. >> couric: and in terms of his recommendation to the president, general david petraeus says he refuses to play politics. >> what he wants is my military advice, not my assessment of how something might play on capitol hill or somewhere else. >> couric: and what if he doesn't take your advice? >> we salute smartly and drive on. >> couric: in this war, the greatest threat to allied forces is roadside bombs, and that threat is growing. in 2005, 20 coalition troops were killed by i.e.d.s. this year, more than 10 times that number. roadside bombs now account for about 60% of all military fatalities here. terry mccarthy went along with an elite team of bomb
bisupposable expert experts expr bazaar in helmund prof expins what he is about to show us is harrowing and extraordinary. >> reporter: chaotic moments after a bomb blast. marines run with stretchers to help their comrades. an explosion went off right behind this building just moments ago. a radio call came in. two marines are down. two men are carried away, a third less seriously wounded, manages to walk out. they are two bomb disposal experts known as an e.o.d. team and a combat engineer. captain nathan opie rushes to the scene and gets the bad news from one of his men. >> he said they got him pretty bad, and at that point, we..., you know, he brought me over there to greer and i saw the e.o.d. techs as well and we started getting them on stretchers and getting them out of there. >> reporter: corporal general greer has a serious brain injury
which will later claim his life. sergeant johnny jones, an explosives disposal expert, has lost both his legs. staff sergeant eric sheer, also a bomb expert, suffers serious shrapnel wounds. in the week before the blast, we followed these three men closely as their unit occupied safar about czar, which has been heavily mined by the sal ban. as the nirn initial wave enters, jones see the first bomb explode. >> is everybody all right? >> reporter: this time the marines are lucky. no one is hurt. jones and sheer examine the device that has gone off and then find two more bombs that are ready to explode. they slowly unaircraft them. as they prepare to cut the wire to a detonator, they break the tension with a flash of humor.
( laughter ). >> it's called antipersonnel, specifically made to hurt someone if not kill them, hurt someone and take a few guys out. >> reporter: greer's job as an engineer is to open up safe routes for other marines to travel along. >> dig along the wall a little bit and come out. >> reporter: often that means blasting holes in walls to avoid possible booby traps. after four days inside the town, the marines have already discovered 40 i.e.d.s. now, their work is slow and meticulous. in areas like this which are laced with bombs, the marines walk along these narrow paths which have been cleared literally stepping in each other's foot prints. when possible, they use robots. and explosives to try to debt nade i.e.d.s from a distance. going in on foot is their last resort. >> we'll go down and try to find the wires themselves. >> reporter: so you're going to walk out there. >> yes, sir.
>> reporter: be careful. >> yes, sir. >> reporter: it is on day seven that jones, greer, and sheer are blown up. they're medevaced out. the marines they leave behind are devastated. these guys, you work with them, know them. >> best friends. >> reporter: how does one react to something like this? >> uhm, you kind of have to stay static. i mean, on it right now, i mean, later it will take effect. right now, we've had a relatively rough summer, but you just have to keep grinding and this will come, too, when i come back. , you know, it will-- when you have time to think. >> reporter: sergeant matthew jackson is another bomb disposal expert who worked closely with the team. he's asked to do the post-blast analysis. >> there was just something they didn't see. , you know, it's nobody's fault. it just-- that's how it happens. >> reporter: the marines will continue to press forward. that's what they do. they are gaining ground in helmund, but the human costs are
mounting. on the outside, they'll hang tough. on the inside, the hurt is growing. terry mccarthy, cbs news, safar bazaar, southern afghanistan. >> couric: one thing afghanistan needs is a clean government, but it is riddled with corruption, some of it tie to the drug trade. 90% of the world's heroine comes from afghanistan, much of it from the poppies grown in kandahar province, where the unofficial ruler is the president's brother. mandy clark spoke exclusively with ahmed wally karzai. >> reporter: they call him the king of kandahar. at a meeting of provincial elders, he takes the seat of honor but is accused of massing his power through dishonorable means including under the table dealses with tribal war lordses and afghan fighters. >> no one came up with any proof that i'm involved in any illegal activities. >> reporter: you know there
have also been accusations that you've been linked to the drug trade and the insurgency. >> yeah, when it comes to drug issues, it's not a legal issue. it is a political issue. it's going on, on and off, and that's-- i believe it's in the past now, and when it comes to insurgency, i was part of this war from even before 9/11. we were fighting against the taliban before 9/11. my father was assassinated by the taliban in '99. >> reporter: but a decade later, kandahar remains a taliban stronghold as 10,000 more u.s. troops arrive to drive out insurgents, experts say corruption is their biggest obstacle. >> of all parts of the country, corruption is probably most severe in kandahar city in kandahar province in part because the figure at the top of that network is the president's younger brother. >> reporter: a u.n. survey
found half of all afghans paid a broib last year, spending an estimated $2.5 billion, almost a quarter of the country's economic output. families that earn on average about $425 a year paid an average bribe of $160 to each corrupt official they came across. >> this kind of corruption, and this kind of abuse of power creates serious disaffection on the part of average affan begans with the government that's in league with all of this. and that, in turn, creates an opening for the insurgency. >> reporter: and the karzais have been tied to illicit deals with private security companies in afghanistan. >> it is notable that one of the major private security companies in kandahar, waton risk management, is owned by cousins of the karzai brothers. >> i never benefitted from the security companies. i wish i did. there's lots of money in it. >> reporter: under pressure to control the situation, president karzai this week announced private security forces must stop work in afghanistan by the
end of 2010. critics say it's another empty attempt by his administration to tackle corruption. just last week, karzai reportedly tried to disband a task force trained by u.s. forces after it accused powerful family friends of laundering drug money, and it's drug money that fuels the taliban. who are your enemies? >> my enemies are the enemies of afghanistan. >> reporter: and his allies are those who can keep kandahar's king seated on his throne. mandy clark, cbs news, kandahar, afghanistan. >> couric: as we mentioned, u.s. operations in iraq are winding down. today, 150 soldiers from the 4th stryker brigade were welcomed home to washington state. last night, other members of the force crossed into kuwait, the last full combat brigade to leave. for now, there are still 6,000 american combat troops in iraq, but they'll leave by the end of
the month. the u.s. will maintain a presence of 50,000 non-combat troops to train iraqi forces. general petraeus was once the top u.s. commander in iraq. we spoke today about the changing mission there. having been in iraq with you, general petraeus, i have to ask you, now that the combat troops are leaving iraq, is this the right time? i mean, you have an uptick in violence, 61 recruits were killed, lots wounded. no clearly formed government. the head of the iraqi military is saying it won't be until 2020 until they can really provide security by themselves for the country. is this success? >> well, first of all, we're not leaving. there are 50,000 u.s. troops that are remaining in iraq, albeit it in a support role rather in a leading combat role. but that's enormous capability. the real become line in iraq, i think is that it is, despite all of its challenges, it is a much,
much more hopeful place than it was in january and february of 2007 when the surge was launched and when there were 50 dead bodies in baghdad every 24 hours. there's going to be violence in iraq. there still are al qaeda in iraq. there are other extremist elements. there are residual militia elements but the 700,000 iraqi security forces on the ground there generally can deal with this, with some assistance from the united states. >> couric: i'll be back with more from afghanistan later in the broadcast. right now, harry smith in new york has the rest of today's news. >> smith: all right, katie. coming up next on the cbs evening news, the latest on the massive egg recall. and which brand may be tainted.
the news helped send stock prices sharply lower today. the dow lost 144 points. an update now that massive recall of eggs possibly tainted with salmonella. the recall now involves 380 million eggs nationwide, tainted eggs are suspected of making more than 270 people sick in three states-- california, colorado, and minnesota. bill whitaker has the latest. >> reporter: the average american consumes about 260 eggs a year. now this largest-ever salmonella
outbreak from eggs is making consumers sick. there have been 1300 more cases than normally reported between may and july. carol lebato ate eggs at a denver restaurant. >> the shaking. i had a fever. i had vomiting. just sick, sick, sick, sick. >> reporter: the outbreak has been traced to wright county egg in iowa, a company with a long history of environmental and labor violations. seven million chickens at the sprawling plant produce 5.5 million eggs a day. now owner jack decosta is being sued by some victims of the outbreak. the recalled eggs are packaged under more than a dozen different names. the sickening bacteria can beo the shell and in the yolk. >> they get into the flocks and the egg-laying houses by feed, by water, and by environmental contamination. >> reporter: when this outbreak started, egg producers largely were in inspecting themselves, but last month, the
testified he injected clemens more than 30 times. the white house said today president obama is a christian and praiseevery day. a spokesman felt is necessary to make that clear after a poll came out showing a significant number of americans believe the president is muslim. 18% think so. that's up from 11% last year. two weeks ago, federal officials said most of the oil that leaked in the gulf was gone or disappearing, today researchers at the woods hole oceanographic institution raised questions about that saying there's a plume of oil stretching 22 miles from the well site. it's a mile wide and more than a half mile deep. coming up next, more from katie in kabul.
as the uproar continues over the proposed mosque near ground zero, muslims pray peaceful less than 80 feet from another site. that's up next. the man president obama put in charge of the war here. in our first sit-down interview, we'll ask general david petraeus about his strategy for putting down the growing insurgency. and we'll show you the latest weapon being used to combat the most deadly enemy here. i.e.d.s. they're called mclicks, and you'll meet more brave americans
from the bomb disposal teams, including sergeant matthew jackson. he wears his heart under his sleeve. the molecular structure of explosives is tattooed on his arm. >> you have your tnt... >> couric: and we'll look at how women are farin faring in an society. freed from taliban rule, more girls and women here are seeking education and employment. now with the taliban make a comeback, they're under attack again. on her way to school, this 18-year-old had acid thrown on her face. tomorrow night, afghanistan: the road ahead. that's the cbs evening news. i'm katie couric. i'll see you again tomorrow night fromicable. until then, thanks for watching, good night.
tonight in your only local news at 7:00, pepco slammed. customers gave them then f. in reliable but they're hoping get a passing grade. plus the brigade hard at work to fix what mother nature tore apart. but first officer under fire. and the shooters have not been caught yet. i'm lindsey mastis in mount rainier. police say multiple suspects shot at a police officer in his cruiser about an hour after robbing a home in bladensberg. suspects entered this home demanding money. no one was hurt. an hour later a prince george's county police officer was making a routine traffic stop. >> two of the rear occupants of the suv rolled down the windows, produced handguns and fired back towards the uniformed police officer.